For the first two seasons of his career, Dion Dawkins has been the starting left tackle of the Buffalo Bills. Entering year three, though, his position has never been in more doubt. The team fired offensive line coach Juan Castillo, and a new coach might prefer size profiles or blocking techniques that aren’t a perfect fit to the 6’4”, 320-pound Dawkins. In his sophomore season, Dawkins took a metaphorical step backward in his pass blocking, didn’t put together as many highlight blocks, and acknowledged that his performance wasn’t good enough.
Could Dawkins see a move to right tackle, or even guard, in year three? The Bills staff indicated they were open to it. Speaking with reporters at the team’s end-of-year press conference, general manager Brandon Beane suggested that Dawkins’s position could be up for debate:
“I’m not going to slot anybody in [at left or right tackle],” said Beane. “Sean [McDermott] and Brian [Daboll] would do that. We’re going to put guys in the best spot to succeed. We’ll bring in competition from free agency, Draft, at a lot of spots, including O-line. If we feel Dion is our best left tackle, then that’s where he’ll play.”
Sean McDermott, who initially pegged Dawkins as Buffalo’s right tackle before Cordy Glenn’s injury spurred the move to the left, had a similarly open mind to moving Dawkins when asked by reporters:
“Yeah, we’ll look at it,” said McDermott when asked about moving Dawkins to right tackle. “That’ll be, again, part of our overall evaluation. There were some moments that I thought Dion improved this year from what he was a year ago. I thought as a whole, [he was] too inconsistent, starting with penalties. We talked about that, and this will be an important off-season for Dion.”
The stakes are clear: Jordan Mills and John Miller are free agents, Vladimir Ducasse and Wyatt Teller haven’t earned guard spots long-term, and now Dawkins might move around the line. The Bills are looking to upgrade every single spot on their offensive line, and the only way he’ll stay at left tackle is if he earns it. The team could draft offensive tackles like Alabama’s Jonah Williams or Oklahoma’s Cody Ford to play left tackle. There are fewer decent options in free agency, but a new coach might want to bring in someone like Trenton Brown or Donovan Smith. If Dawkins plans to stay as Buffalo’s left tackle, he already should know: He needs to deliver the goods.